Arolla - Marmot Trail
Today we’re taking you on a special hike to introduce Mio the little Marmot, who lives on a Marmot trail in Arolla at the end of Val d’Herens.
Situated in the Canton of Valais, this Marmot trail not only offers amazing mountain views, it is also super educational as it explains the life of Mio and her family on 12 different posts.
Also check out our Swiss Hiking Map
Who is Mio the Marmot?
Learn about the life of a Marmot with Mio on 12 information panels spread over the hike.
Learn how the Marmot is an alpine mammal that sleeps the whole winter and enjoys the alpine surroundings the rest of the year. It is not always easy to spot them, as most are quite shy. For sure you have heard them whilst hiking, you wonder how? Marmots have a very loud whistle to warn their friends and family when hikers or dangers are close by.
On this beautiful family friendly Marmot trail in Arolla you will discover its characteristics and how these furry alpine animals live.
- Did you know Marmots only carry their babies for 33 days?
- And their biggest predator is the alpine eagle?
- Their eyesight is not the best although they have a vision of 300°.
I do not want to reveal all the answers. Go and find out by yourselves how Mio the Marmot lives, on the Marmot trail in Arolla. At the highest point of the trail there is the opportunity to take a family photo with Mio, Mont Collon and the other surrounding mountains in the background. The kids will get a prize if they show their photo at the “0ffice du Tourisme” in Arolla or Evolène.
Before you go on the Marmot Trail in Arolla
If you do have a dog it must be kept on a leash at ALL TIMES! Marmots are super scared of them and you will not be popular amongst other hikers if your dog is running wild around the meadows.
Marmots also have a very distinctive diet and you will learn on the path what they eat. In other words, PLEASE do not feed them, they don’t like your sandwich! Furthermore, try to stay on the path, so you are not walking through their living room either.
Obeying these points will increase your chance of seeing them playing in their natural habitat. And I guess this is why you are planning to do the Marmot trail in Arolla with your family!
What to expect on the Marmot Trail in Arolla
The hike is fairly steep at the beginning, therefore if you plan the Marmot Trail hike in Arolla to be your 1st one of the season, I would suggest with smaller kids to train a bit first.
Having said that, the trail is only a 4km round trip so you can spend the whole day on it and the incline can be walked slowly so the whole family will be able to join the Marmot trail in Arolla.
When you arrive at the end of Val d’Herens you are in the small Valaisanne village of Arolla which is surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks.
To give you some names, - the large snow-covered mountain in front of you is Mont Collon at 3,637 m and the Pigne d’Arolla at 3,796 m poses proud to the right, although better viewed whilst on the actual trail.
Just stunning to be so close to these mountains. Be prepared that the weather can change super quickly in this Valley, so a warmer coat may just be welcomed during your Marmot trail hike in Arolla.
Starting the Marmot Trail
To reach the car park and the start of the Marmot trail drive past the Arolla Tourism Office and continue to the left up the hill. After a couple of minutes you will see the car park signposted to your right.
The Marmot trail starts behind the cable car installation at the far end of the car park. It is signposted and you will also find maps here if you don’t have one yet.
On this map below, number one is the 1st post of the Marmot Trail in Arolla and also the car park. If you arrive by public transport you will start your hike at the Arolla Tourism Office in the village showing here post 12.
If the upper parking is quiet you may also spot your first Marmots in the rocks on the approach to the trail as we did.
Let's start the trail...
At the beginning of the Marmot trail you quickly gain altitude and it carries on climbing all the way through the forest until you reach an open meadow.
NOTE: There is a beautiful viewpoint hidden by a pine tree shortly after the start of this hike on your right. Duck under the 1st branches and continue no more than 5 metres and an amazing view opens up in front of you.
When you reach the plateau, start looking again for Marmots. Sometimes best to just stand still and wait. You may suddenly start to see movement in the meadow and on the rocky areas.
Marmots love to sunbathe, therefore a nice rock in the sun is always a good place to seek these cute mountain inhabitants.
It is also here where you will find Mio’s first post right next to a great picnic table with a fireplace.
Tip from a local
The Marmot Trail is taking you to the left (direction point 4 on the map above) across the meadow and further up the mountain. Make a small detour and pass by the picnic table and head down this path. You can see a cross in the close distance on your right. The path is leading right in front of it, but you may want to stop before and observe.
According to a local this is a beloved spot of the Marmots and we did see four Marmots sunbathing and playing together on the rocks.
After this small diversion you MUST head back to post number 3 and follow the Marmot Trail signs again.
The next part of the Marmot Trail guides you through an alpine open space. You most certainly will share this section with some local cows, the “Herens” a Valaisanne breed. Don’t worry they do look very big, but are most certainly friendly as all Valaisannes are!
As with all cows please don’t approach them, touch them or feed them.
Half way…Photo time
After another uphill section you and your family will have reached the highest point of the hike! Well done to everyone, and above all, I do hope by now you have seen some Marmots as well. You have reached post number seven where a cool photo frame gives you the chance to capture some fun family photos.
And best of all, if you send them to the Instagram hashtag written on the frame, you and your family have the chance to win a night in Arolla!!!! (I am writing this blog for hiking season 2020, so this may not be the case if you are hiking the Marmot trail in Arolla after that date.)
After having had some fun in taking your photos, and hopefully spotting some more Marmots and maybe even an Alpine Eagle, the path is now starting to go downhill. Careful during this section there are some loose stones and the path is narrow. Just watch your footing.
When you have reached the bottom of this section, a quaint little buvette/restaurant called La Chotte invites you for some refreshments. Unfortunately, it was closed when we hiked the Marmot Trail in Arolla.
Nearly at the end...
So we carried on and followed the trail into the forest leaving the Alpine Meadows behind us.
After a while another theme trail is joining onto the Sentier des Marmottes – Marmot Trail. When we hiked it, there were no more signs and it got quite confusing which direction the Marmot trail is heading.
We have asked the Tourism Office to add another sign which would make it super easy to find the way. Hopefully they have done this.
If not, you’re lucky as you are reading our blog.
IMPORTANT way point
At the moment you’re standing at a post from the Theme path “Sentier d’Arolla”, you need to go down and cross the small bridge on your right. Furthermore, you will see posts from yet another path, “source d’eau d’Arolla” (water source path). Just carry on down to the left and you will finally see again a well known sign, The Marmot trail Arolla. 🙂
It is all a bit confusing as all these paths mix, but if you are following our instructions you will be fine.
Finishing the Marmot trail in Arolla!
It is now not long until the end. The forest path will bring you out at the parking of a hotel. It was again a bit confusing as here we also did not see any signs, but the road that will lead you back to the carpark. Whilst standing at the road and looking back we spotted post number 11 which was at the lower parking place.
We made a family decision at that point. Daddy went back up the road to get the car, and the kids and I carried on the end of the path. The kids were pleased that they did not had to hike back up to the car park.
It is not much left, one more post, number 11 and then just all the way back down in to the Village of Arolla. By the Tourism office you will find post number 12.
We all felt that a nice refreshment in the Village restaurant with an ice cream is exactly what we needed to finish this most beautiful and interesting Marmot trail in Arolla.
Hiking Map for the Marmot Trail in Arolla
How the map works: Click on “Learn More” to get to the full map layout with profile and interactive route indicator.
NOTE: On this map I have started at the carpark and finished in the Village Arolla. From Arolla Village back up to the carpark you have to count just under 1km.
Location:: Val d'Hérens, Evolène Region Arolla, Valais
Length:: 3.6 km / 4.4km
Level:: easy-medium (hiked with kids age nearly 5)
Highest point:: 2302m
Ascension 279m / Descent 348m
Good to know
- There is the Buvette/Restaurant La Chotte, nearly at the end of the hike before entering the forest. Check if open.
- Not pushchair friendly
- Fairly Steep at first
- Pic-Nic and fire stations available on the hike. You have to bring your wood or find it on the way up.
You may also like the following family hikes in Valais.
These hikes below have an age rating for kids between 3-5 years of age. This is simply a recommendation by us. On each hike I have stated the age of our twins at the day of the hike.
- Hiking in Grimentz-Zinal - Cabane du petit Mountet
- Ferpècle: A stroll or bike ride to the Mont-Miné Glacier, Valais
- Lötschental Panorama Hike
- Hiking to Lac de Salanfe with Kids
- 12 Easy Family Hikes in Valais
- Activities for Families In Nendaz – Tracouet Station Lac Noir
- A Family Hike at La Grande Dixence Dam
- Easy Hike around Lake Sanetsch
- Tseuzier Lake – Best family friendly hike with little kids
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when Hiking in Arolla the Marmot Trail - Sentier des Marmottes
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.
We speak German and French as well !